A Statement from Anera on the Violence in Jerusalem and Gaza
Anera is deeply concerned about the escalating attacks and loss of life in Jerusalem, Gaza and throughout Palestine and Israel, including threatened moves to evict Palestinian families from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem, and the rising numbers of injured, dead and homeless in Gaza. We call on all those with the power to stop the violence to do so immediately.
Palestinians have protested in recent weeks in response to imminent threats to evict families in Sheikh Jarrah from their homes and tightened restrictions imposed on Palestinians in East Jerusalem during the holy month of Ramadan. Last week, Israeli police fired stun grenades inside Islam’s third holiest site, the Al-Aqsa Mosque, on the final Friday of Ramadan. Hundreds of Palestinians, including paramedics, have been wounded by Israeli police in recent days.
We all know that violence and protest is not uncommon here, but these recent events feel more fraught. This latest escalation feels like it could be consequential for years to come, with disastrous results for Palestinians – and Israelis. The events in Jerusalem have already renewed tensions across the region. In Gaza authorities are currently reporting 26 people killed, including nine children. More fatalities appear likely. Our colleagues in Gaza are at home with their families, but instead of celebrating they are again living in fear of falling bombs and an escalation of a conflict beyond their control that inevitably leaves their already difficult lives more shattered and full of loss and hardship.
Anera has been delivering programs in Jerusalem since its founding in 1968, and we have had an office in East Jerusalem since 1976, in Sheikh Jarrah for almost 20 years. We have nine staff who work in our Jerusalem office, and live in Sheikh Jarrah, the Old City, and other East Jerusalem neighborhoods. They are experiencing first-hand the tensions around them, including the ongoing violence in Sheikh Jarrah and Al-Aqsa Mosque.
The whole neighborhood is living under a heavy police presence. The loud booms of police stun grenades firing are audible at all hours, ringing through the streets and into houses. Nightly protests reflect Palestinian resolve to rise above hopelessness and protect their homes and their right to live in the city of their birth. Tensions are high. News outlets have reported numerous incidents of inter-communal violence in recent weeks between Israeli Jews and Palestinians.
Anera stands ready to respond to the needs of the communities we serve, in Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank. Our Anera offices in Palestine continued to operate through the Gaza wars and both intifadas. Even when legal restrictions and other barriers preclude program activity in East Jerusalem, we retain our presence here to show our support for the Palestinian communities that live in the city. And we do not plan to leave. Anera stands with our neighbors in Sheikh Jarrah and with all those seeking an end to hate, violence and dispossession.
Even after this war is over, the decimation of life and infrastructure in Gaza will take many years to overcome.